PORSCHE CAYENNE: maturing with age

PEOPLE like Porsches – of that there’s no doubt.

The German sports car manufacturer has just enjoyed the best year sales in its long history, with turnover up an impressive 25 per cent over 2011.

That means they shifted 143,096 cars – and not just sleek little 911s, Caymans and Boxsters either, as the big muscley Cayenne also does its bit for the company.

The Cayenne is instantly recognisable as a Porsche model with its cool exterior styling and smart front end treatment with Porsche family headlights.

It certainly was to one of my neighbours, who owned an older model, and whose jaw I could faintly hear thud into the footwell of his car as he drove past, gazing at the shiny red Cayenne on my drive.

No wonder – it really is a superb looking high quality sporting SUV, and a very quick one at that.

The GTS under scrutiny here has a rather large 4.8 litre V8 engine under the bonnet. It’s a real powerhouse and the deep initial howl from the four exhausts as you turn the key threatened to blow the side gate of our house off its hinges. You certainly know when a big Porsche is started up in the neighbourhood.

And you certainly know you’ve got a lot of power to play with when you hit the accelerator and the big SUV begins its headlong rush to the next bend which it’ll negotiate without adding to your laundry bill. It’s civilized. Lighting quick, but civilized.

An eight speed automatic transmission with a wider spread of gear ratios, Auto Start Stop function, better thermal management of the engine and transmission cooling system and other smart stuff help make this a technological tour de force.

The latest Cayenne looks more compact than the original but it’s actually a bit bigger.

Inside there’s a typical Porsche ‘cockpit’ feel, with a high centre console that gives the front occupants their own distinct space, surrounded by enough buttons and switches to keep Sulu occupied on the USS Enterprise.

The interior is uber smart, clad in leather and alcantara and with neat red stitching and red seat belts. It’s very comfortable, cosseting you from the bumpy ride of the Cayenne if you’ve got the wrong setting momentarily selected for the suspension.

And there’s no danger of not getting enough cooling air in the cabin as there are four huge vertical alloy edged vents to blow it at you.

There are also plenty buttons to master on the console between the two front seats, but you soon learn that ‘Sport’ equals a far livelier set up, sharpening the throttle response and making for an even more rewarding drive.

And you’ll notice plenty neatly styled grab handles around the vast cabin for passengers to hold onto if you attempt anything bordering on the over exhuberant.

The superb sports seats really grip your bum and thighs, but with the extra ground clearance you get in a car like this you find yourself having to climb over the firm side bolster to get in.

There’s an awful lot of individual space in the back for passengers, and that obviously has the dual pay off in terms of load space area if you need it.

All Cayennes come with Porsche Traction Management all wheel drive, leather interior, dual zone automatic climate control, front and rear parking sensors, an audio system with a seven inch touch screen, electric seat adjustment, big smart alloys (in this instance black ones), and front and rear electric windows.

Stop start helps to keep the fuel bills manageable – you don’t want to be wasting the stuff as the Cayenne’s urban figure is sub 20mpg.

An added bonus of Porsche ownership is they’ll teach you how to drive it to get the best out of it. The Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone allows you to develop your own skills behind the wheel while you’re finding out all about the attributes of your new car in a safe environment and away from the Queen’s highway.

The first version of the Cayenne hit every branch of the ugly tree as it fell to earth, but this latest model proves that some things really do get better with age. A very capable and enjoyable machine.

AT A GLANCE: Porsche Cayenne GTS; £67,147; 4806cc V8, 420hp, 515Nm; 8 speed Tiptronic S gearbox; Top speed 162mph, 0-62mph 5.7 secs; Fuel (100 litre tank) – urban 19.1, extra urban 33.2, combined 26.4; CO2 251g/km.

© Wheelwrite.co.uk 24/04/2013

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